Dear Heloise: I enjoy your column in the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald. Here is a hint for LEFTOVER CANDY CANES. I make holiday cookies and use crushed candy canes in some recipes.

Last year, I bought a box of 60 candy canes and had plenty left over. Instead of putting them out plain, I dipped the straight end in melted chocolate and let them cool off. After the chocolate dried, I put each into its original wrapper. The hook part was out, so the guest could pull out the candy without touching the chocolate. They were a hit, and looked festive and attractive. -- Sue B. in Nebraska

Your hint is a yummy money-saver, too! -- Heloise

WHAT TO USE?

Dear Heloise: I am an avid reader of your column in the Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal. Heloise, I love to bake, especially cream pies, but I can’t find the ingredient cream of tartar at any grocery store. Do you know how to make a home version of cream of tartar for use in pie meringue? I would appreciate it. -- Sadie R., Mansfield, Ohio

For meringue, substitute the same amount of white vinegar or lemon juice for cream of tartar. For example, if the recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar, add 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice. Check out my pamphlet for more money-saving hints using vinegar for cooking, cleaning and beauty tips. For Heloise’s Fantabulous Vinegar Hints and More, please send $5 and a long, self-addressed, stamped (66 cents) envelope to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Add 1/4 teaspoon of white vinegar to three egg whites if you want to make the meringue extra fluffy. You should be able to find cream of tartar in the spice section at the grocery store. If not, just ask the manager. -- Heloise

PERFECT PASTA

Dear Heloise: Every pasta recipe calls for 4 to 6 quarts of water for each pound of pasta. Why do we need to use so much water? -- Ellen in Washington, D.C.

There are a couple of reasons to use that much water. It makes it easier to fit larger, longer pastas like spaghetti into the pot. It also helps keep the pasta from sticking together, since there is a lot of room and water.

An additional hint for helping the sauce to stick to hot pasta is to NEVER rinse it. The starch left on the pasta helps the sauce adhere. Rinse if making a cold pasta dish. -- Heloise

RUINED WINE?

Dear Heloise: My wife and I bought a fairly expensive bottle of wine, and I had a hard time removing the cork. I couldn’t get all of it out; the bottom crumbled and dropped fragments into the wine, many too small to pluck out. I discovered that the cork could be separated by filtering the wine through a coffee filter. -- A.S. in New York

A good way to save a bottle of wine! -- Heloise

Heloise’s column appears six days a week at www.washingtonpost.com/advice. Send a hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio, Tex. 78279-5000, or e-mail it to Heloise@Heloise.com.

, King Features Syndicate